Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Joel Embiid says he’s trying too hard to fit in, 76ers must sacrifice

76ers bigs Joel Embiid and Al Horford

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 10: Joel Embiid #21 and Al Horford #42 of the Philadelphia 76ers react against the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center on December 10, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The 76ers expressed their unhappiness with each other earlier this season.

Three straight losses – to the Hawks by 10, Celtics by 21 and Heat by 31 – has Philadelphia sounding like it might be entering full-blown crisis mode.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice:

Jon Johnson of 94WIP:

Al Horford said, “There’s some stuff going on in our locker room.” What is “some stuff”? Strife? Productive communication among players? It’s unclear, and there’s obviously a vast difference. I wouldn’t jump to the most drastic conclusion.

But Joel Embiid’s comments sound more safely alarming. By saying he has been trying too hard to fit in and that the team needs to sacrifice, he seems to be implying he has done his part. He sounds fed up with everyone else.

Embiid, who has said he doesn’t like to shoot 3-pointers, is stuck with Ben Simmons, whose reluctant 3-point shooting has made a punchline. The 76ers have charged ahead building around Embiid and Simmons, seemingly never seriously exploring whether the star pairing – not the supporting cast – was the issue.

Horford hasn’t helped. He and Embiid tend to step on each other’s toes offensively. Josh Richardson and Tobias Harris aren’t good enough outside shooters to compensate. So, floor-spacing can be downright awful.

The 76ers looked more cohesive with Embiid sidelined recently. Though they didn’t actually score that efficiently, players could associate positive vibes with feeling more comfortable on the floor and winning. That’d make returning to Simmons-Embiid lineups jarring.

The good news: Philadelphia is still 31-20. This fairly new roster always needed time to jell. The 76ers were always expected to be better in the playoffs than the regular season.

But Philadelphia is just sixth in the Eastern Conference. That’s tough to accept in the moment, especially during a losing streak. With so many expensive players, the 76ers will have a difficult time making major changes before tomorrow’s trade deadline.

Still, even a minor move could jolt a team that seems pretty frustrated.